Tag Archives: hedge fund taxation

Hedge Fund Taxes May Increase under Obama

Obama to Propos Taxing Hedge Fund Carried Interest

Groups such as the New York Times and Daily Finance are reporting that Obama’s proposed fiscal 2010 budget, which will be released tomorrow, will include provisions which will increase taxes for hedge fund managers (and private equity fund managers).   Such a provision would likely be written to provide that a carried interest (also called a performance allocation) paid to a management company would be characterized as ordinary income instead of capital gain (to the extent the underlying profits were long term capital gains which are subject to a lower tax rate).

Hedge fund managers are not likely to receive much sympathy from the general public, but this is a hot button issue which will likely incense many of Obama’s supporters.  Hedge fund taxation has been an issue batted around in the media and was especially popular a year and a half ago when the Blackston group was preparing to go public (see Bloomberg article).  The issue has been smoldering for a while (see Hedge Fund Tax Issues 2007), but groups are beginning to examine and analyze this issue (see the abstract of an academic report below) rather than react in a knee-jerk manner.

What we will ask of the President, lawmakers and regulators is that they examine the issue from an academic perspective and make informed decisions.  Hopefully reports like the one below will persuade lawmakers to ultimately keep the carried interest tax preference for hedge funds and private equity funds.

We will continue to report on this issue and will release any applicable information once the fiscal budget is released.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions if you have any hedge fund law questions.


Measuring the Tax Subsidy in Private Equity and Hedge Fund Compensation

Karl Okamoto
Drexel University College of Law

Thomas J. Brennan
Northwestern University School of Law

February 26, 2008

Drexel College of Law Research Paper No. 2008-W-01


A debate is raging over the taxation of private equity and hedge fund managers. It is being played out in the headlines, in Congress and among legal scholars. This paper offers a new analysis of the subject. We provide an analytical model that allows us to compare the relative risk-reward benefit enjoyed by private equity and hedge fund managers and other managerial types such as corporate executives and entrepreneurs. We look to relative benefits in order to determine the extent to which the current state of the world favors the services of a private equity or hedge fund manager over these other workers. Our conclusion is that private equity and hedge fund managers do outperform other workers on a risk-adjusted, after-tax basis. In the case of hedge fund managers, this superiority persists even after the preferential tax treatment is eliminated, suggesting that taxes alone do not provide a complete explanation. We assume that over time compensation of private equity and hedge fund managers should approach equilibrium on a risk-adjusted basis with other comparable compensation opportunities. In the meantime, however, our model suggests that differences in tax account for a substantial portion of the disjuncture that exists at the moment. It also quantifies the significant excess returns to private fund managers that must be taken into account by arguments in support of their current tax treatment by analogy to entrepreneurs and corporate executives. This analysis is important for two reasons. It provides a perspective on the current issue that has so far been ignored by answering the question of how taxation may affect behavior in the market for allocating human capital. It also provides quantitative precision to the current debate which relies significantly on loosely drawn analogies between fund managers on the one hand and entrepreneurs and corporate executives on the other. This paper provides the mathematics that these comparisons imply.

Other hedge fund tax and law articles include:

Hedge Fund Taxation – Law School Professor Perspective

Overview of Hedge Fund Taxation

The following is a reprint of the Joseph Bankman’s testimony before Congress.  Mr. Bankman is a professor at Stanford Law School.  While the testimony has a bias against the current hedge fund taxation structure, it provides a great overview of hedge fund tax issue, specifically the taxation of the hedge fund performance fee (also known as a “performance allocation,” “carried interest” or “carry”).  Ultimately the future of the hedge fund taxation regime will be decided in the political arena, but this article provides a good overview of the arguments for changing the current tax code.  Continue reading

IRC Subchapter K – Partners and Partnerships

Below is Subchapter K of the Internal Revenue Code.  Most hedge funds are taxed as partnerships and we discuss some of these provisions from time to time on this website.  Please let us know if you have any questions on hedge fund tax or if you would like to start a hedge fund.  Continue reading

LP and LLC Fund Taxation

Hedge funds are popular vehicles for hedge fund investors because of the manner in which they are taxed.  Hedge funds are usually structured as limited partnerships or limited liability companies.  Such entities by default are taxed as partnerships under Subchapter K of the Internal Revenue Code.

The partners in a partnership, and not the partnership itself, are taxed on the partnership’s income.  In this manner the partnership is markedly different than a corporation which is subject to double taxation (tax at both the corporate and shareholder level).  Because of the manner of taxation, partnerships are referred to as “flow through” vehicles because the income is taxed at the investor level instead of (or in addition to) the entity level.

Yearly LP and LLC Fund Tax Returns

Each year a hedge fund will need to file a tax return with the federal government.  In addition the hedge fund will probably need to file a tax return with the state where the manager resides.  These issues should be discussed with a hedge fund auditor or accountant, who will typically prepare the partnership’s tax returns.  The IRS specifically states with regard to Form 1065:

Every partnership that engages in a trade or business or has gross income must file an information return on Form 1065 showing its income, deductions, and other required information. The partnership return must show the names and addresses of each partner and each partner’s distributive share of taxable income. The return must be signed by a general partner. If a limited liability company is treated as a partnership, it must file Form 1065 and one of its members must sign the return.

A partnership is not considered to engage in a trade or business, and is not required to file a Form 1065, for any tax year in which it neither receives income nor pays or incurs any expenses treated as deductions or credits for federal income tax purposes.

The hedge fund will also need to send each investor a Schedule K-1 so that the investor can prepare its tax returns for the year.  The accountant will help the hedge fund manager to prepare these items.

Schedule K-1 can be found here: Schedule K

Other Tax Items

Some other partnership taxation topics which we will be discussing in the future include:

–    Gains and losses from securities transactions
–    Constructive sales
–    1256 contracts
–    Original Issue Discount
–    Itemized deductions
–    Allocations of the fund’s income, deductions and/or loss
–    AMT
–    UBTI
–    Passive Activity Losses
–    Distributions
–    Section 754 Adjustments
–    “Stuffing” provisions